Regardless of your fitness level, sweating is usually a good sign — it means that you are properly hydrated, working hard, and everything is working the way it’s supposed to. In fact, if you don’t sweat at all during your workouts, you may not be exercising hard enough or there may be an underlying problem that needs to be addressed.
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A good sweat just feels GOOD. It leaves you feeling refreshed, renewed and a little lighter. But does sweat burn fat? And since 75 per cent of our bodies are made up of water, could excessive sweating help you lose weight?
Also Read: Health Benefits of Sweating
Let’s examine the issue of sweat and weight loss a little further.
Why Do We Sweat?
Here’s how (and why) sweating happens: Between 2 and 4 million sweat glands are buried below the surface of your skin; it’s your eccrine sweat glands that are responsible for regulating body temperature. When your internal temperature climbs, your eccrine glands release water to the skin’s surface, which cools the skin through evaporation and thus cools your body down.
Sweat itself contains a blend of waste byproducts like urea, salts, sugars and ammonia from your pores, brought to the surface by water in your system.
Basically, sweating is a response to your body’s internal temperature. You sweat when your brain tells you to sweat. When your body temperature rises due to heat, exercise, or even spicy foods, your hypothalamus in the brain tells your body to sweat, in order to help you cool you down and prevent overheating.
Does Sweating Help You Lose Weight?
The act of sweating — your body sending water to the surface to cool itself down — does not take a lot of energy. Therefore sweating alone cannot be attributed to significant weight loss.
We repeat: Sweating does not burn fat.
However, if you’re a slave to the scale, you likely already know that you weigh a few pounds less following a sweaty workout. Weight can fluctuate nearly five pounds up or down throughout any given day, and this has a lot to do with your hydration levels. Chug a few glasses of water, and the scale goes up; go to the bathroom and the scale goes down; retain some water from salty foods and the scale goes up; take a sweaty Bikram class and the scale goes down.
There are two different forms of weight loss: temporary weight loss and permanent weight loss. In the short-term, sweating makes you lose weight, which is why wrestlers, boxers, MMA fighters and fitness competitors dehydrate themselves aggressively before a big weigh-in.
But of course, this weight loss is temporary; as soon as you rehydrate, the weight will come back.
Do Hot Workouts Burn More Calories?
A hot room means you’ll be sweating more in order to cool yourself down, but sweating alone does not burn calories, and burning calories is the only way to burn fat.
The fact is that a hot room doesn’t make you work any harder, so you aren’t burning any extra calories (although it might make it feel like you are working harder). The only way to burn calories is to heat the body from the inside out, not from the outside in. Working out in hot temperatures and wearing heavy clothing will not lead to additional fat loss.
So if we know that dehydration leads to weight loss — albeit, temporary weight loss — why not just dehydrate yourself all the time and hang on to that magical, low number? Any weight loss, is good weight loss, am I right?
In case it wasn’t obvious, dehydration is NOT a good weight loss strategy. Dehydration, even acute dehydration, can lead to a number of health problems such as heatstroke, kidney damage and cardiovascular-related problems. Symptoms include extreme thirst, decreased energy levels, dizziness, nausea, and absence of sweating, even in hot conditions. You should always aim to drink 64 ounces of water a day to replace what you lose every day, more if you are sweating, no matter if its from exercise or simply being out on a hot day.
But don’t cancel your hot yoga membership just yet. Hot workouts do have other benefits. Warm muscles, regardless of work or environment, are more pliable, which makes a hot room the prime environment for flexibility work like yoga. The feeling of exercising in the heat can be intense and often times overwhelming, which means one must focus the mind and calm their energy to complete their practice. This mindfulness aspect of hot yoga serves as an added bonus benefit for some people.
On the other hand, hot workouts aren’t for everyone, so if you don’t enjoy them, don’t force yourself thinking you’re missing out on any huge fat-burning benefits.